Assuming that the Zune is as good or somewhat better than the IPOD, as appears to be the case, this is shaping up to be a very interesting test of whether Microsoft can overcome the branding “momentum” of Apple and IPOD, nothing short of a spectacular success.
I’d think timing will matter a lot. If Zunes, coming out November 14, sweep into the Christmas scene with a bang and lots of positive press it’ll bode well for the long term prospects.
If the Zune song sharing feature takes off it could signal a turning point in how the big players change the way they integrate the consumer into the process of selling to other people. I predict that the company that most effectively integrates user content and user revenue sharing will be the big winner this decade, and that it’s still anybody’s game.